Jess Clemons
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Jess Clemons

Nantucket, Massachusetts, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF | AFM

Nantucket, Massachusetts, United States | SELF | AFM
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Folk Acoustic

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Press


For Immediate Release

October 1, 2007


The winner of the prestigious Flat Rock Music Festival songwriting contest for 2007 was Carla Gover of Berea KY. Carla submitted her song "Me and The Redbird River"? and as one of the top 10 finalists, performed her song for contest judges on the festival's Main Stage September 29th, 2007. The enthusiastic Flat Rock Music Festival crowds warmly received all the finalists but in the end Carla was judged the winner and received a cash prize of $600 and a festival slot at the 2008 Flat Rock Music Festival.


Song Contest coordinator, Bob Sinclair told the crowds gathered for the contest that the contest had seen a dramatic increase in entries and talent over the past few years and used this year's finalists as an example. Mss Gover has won the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at Merlefest and she was the winner of the 2007 Kerrville New Folk Contest, which features rising songwriters. We are delighted that writers and performers of her caliber are attracted to this contest and to our songwriter-friendly festival. Flat Rock is a magic place that seems to attract special people. Our finalists and these great audiences are a testament to that magic�.


Jess Clemonsf Underhill, VT was the $200 second place winner in the contest and was another example of a rising star in the songwriter world that decided to pursue the prize and acclaim of Flat Rock. A touring professional, Ms. Clemons song, "Toronto Song" was a crowd favorite. Her compelling voice and refined accompaniment on piano hushed the crowd. "I love it here"?, said Ms. Clemons of the festival and the contest. I feel honored to be part of this event and this great contest.


Jeri Katherine Howel's song, "Branch to Branch"? was the third place winner. This young songstress is gathering a real fan base beyond her hometown of Frankfort. She captured the heart and imagination of the Flat Rock audience with her charming performance.


Contest entries came in from across the country and finalists ranged from KY, NC, SC Indiana and Georgia. The 2008 contest will continue to focus on rising songwriters and will be renamed the Flat Rock Music Festival Emerging Songwriter Contest?. Entrant applications for 2008 will be available at the festival website www.flatrockmusicfestival.com


For more information contact:


Bob Sinclair

828/320-4131 - Bob Sinclair, Flat Rock Festival Producer


For Immediate Release

October 1, 2007


The winner of the prestigious Flat Rock Music Festival songwriting contest for 2007 was Carla Gover of Berea KY. Carla submitted her song "Me and The Redbird River"? and as one of the top 10 finalists, performed her song for contest judges on the festival's Main Stage September 29th, 2007. The enthusiastic Flat Rock Music Festival crowds warmly received all the finalists but in the end Carla was judged the winner and received a cash prize of $600 and a festival slot at the 2008 Flat Rock Music Festival.


Song Contest coordinator, Bob Sinclair told the crowds gathered for the contest that the contest had seen a dramatic increase in entries and talent over the past few years and used this year's finalists as an example. Mss Gover has won the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at Merlefest and she was the winner of the 2007 Kerrville New Folk Contest, which features rising songwriters. We are delighted that writers and performers of her caliber are attracted to this contest and to our songwriter-friendly festival. Flat Rock is a magic place that seems to attract special people. Our finalists and these great audiences are a testament to that magic�.


Jess Clemonsf Underhill, VT was the $200 second place winner in the contest and was another example of a rising star in the songwriter world that decided to pursue the prize and acclaim of Flat Rock. A touring professional, Ms. Clemons song, "Toronto Song" was a crowd favorite. Her compelling voice and refined accompaniment on piano hushed the crowd. "I love it here"?, said Ms. Clemons of the festival and the contest. I feel honored to be part of this event and this great contest.


Jeri Katherine Howel's song, "Branch to Branch"? was the third place winner. This young songstress is gathering a real fan base beyond her hometown of Frankfort. She captured the heart and imagination of the Flat Rock audience with her charming performance.


Contest entries came in from across the country and finalists ranged from KY, NC, SC Indiana and Georgia. The 2008 contest will continue to focus on rising songwriters and will be renamed the Flat Rock Music Festival Emerging Songwriter Contest?. Entrant applications for 2008 will be available at the festival website www.flatrockmusicfestival.com


For more information contact:


Bob Sinclair

828/320-4131 - Bob Sinclair, Flat Rock Festival Producer


Q:: If you have a career outside of music, what types of jobs do you do? Where do you live in the winter if not on Nantucket? Always Baja? Why?

A:: I’ve been working as a gardener on Nantucket for five years now. I have a great job working for a good friend of mine which keeps me outdoors and allows me to have nights off to play gigs. I used to wait tables but gave that up in lieu of music, as the demand for live music in bars and restaurants on the island grew. My gardening job also allows me to take several months off in the winter, which is key in my life! I’ve spent the last 3 winters in southern Baja, in a small fishing village where kiteboarders and windsurfers alike flock to in the winter. It’s a rustic, authentic Mexican town with an amazingly talented, creative, active international community. Everyone from artists to ER doctors to world-class kitesurfers live amongst each other and share a passion for the outdoors, adventure, and for the wind. I learned how to kitesurf in Baja in 2010, got hooked, and have been coming back here ever since. The drive is amazing, and the kiting community is welcoming and varied and fun-loving. The town is growing, and as it does, more bars are opening with opportunities to play music. I’ve been very blessed to have the opportunities that I have had to play down here, and to meet as many people as I have who enjoy my music. It feels like a homecoming every time I get back to town. I have some weekly paid gigs, and am getting calls to play house shows and private parties – it’s a nice way to connect with people and make a little money while I’m traveling. I also usually get to play a handful of house shows on my way north with folks that I’ve met in Baja – mostly in California and Oregon, before heading back east. When not gigging and kiting, there are so many great places down here within a few hours’ drive. I am constantly inspired by the wildlife, the wilderness that still exists here, the Mexican culture, and the perspective and drive of people I meet down here. - Nantucket's N Magazine


Q:: If you have a career outside of music, what types of jobs do you do? Where do you live in the winter if not on Nantucket? Always Baja? Why?

A:: I’ve been working as a gardener on Nantucket for five years now. I have a great job working for a good friend of mine which keeps me outdoors and allows me to have nights off to play gigs. I used to wait tables but gave that up in lieu of music, as the demand for live music in bars and restaurants on the island grew. My gardening job also allows me to take several months off in the winter, which is key in my life! I’ve spent the last 3 winters in southern Baja, in a small fishing village where kiteboarders and windsurfers alike flock to in the winter. It’s a rustic, authentic Mexican town with an amazingly talented, creative, active international community. Everyone from artists to ER doctors to world-class kitesurfers live amongst each other and share a passion for the outdoors, adventure, and for the wind. I learned how to kitesurf in Baja in 2010, got hooked, and have been coming back here ever since. The drive is amazing, and the kiting community is welcoming and varied and fun-loving. The town is growing, and as it does, more bars are opening with opportunities to play music. I’ve been very blessed to have the opportunities that I have had to play down here, and to meet as many people as I have who enjoy my music. It feels like a homecoming every time I get back to town. I have some weekly paid gigs, and am getting calls to play house shows and private parties – it’s a nice way to connect with people and make a little money while I’m traveling. I also usually get to play a handful of house shows on my way north with folks that I’ve met in Baja – mostly in California and Oregon, before heading back east. When not gigging and kiting, there are so many great places down here within a few hours’ drive. I am constantly inspired by the wildlife, the wilderness that still exists here, the Mexican culture, and the perspective and drive of people I meet down here. - Nantucket's N Magazine


Q:: Do you have a favorite track that you might lead with as a single? Why would you chose that one?

A:: I wrote and recorded a song called the Toronto Song 5 years back – it got some attention and a little radio play and won me some songwriting awards. I think it’s some pretty gutsy story telling combined with a heart-on-your-sleeve, exposed chorus that gets people when they hear that one. I think people really connect with some of my imagery and honesty that can sometimes be hard to let pour out. I’ve got a couple brewing on the front burner that might be potentially commercially viable, but that’s not really on my agenda right now.

Q:: What would you say your goal is as a musician? (interpret that as you wish)

A:: I love to travel, I love the outdoors, and I love meeting people. If I can make a decent living traveling with my music for a while, and connect with people through it in beautiful places, I’ll be a happy girl. I often get people saying that they think I’ll “get big” or “make it” some day. I guess I’m not really up for chasing after that kind of life. If I get some break and make some money off a certain song, I’d be thrilled to take the money and keep on keepin’ on, as they say, there’s a lot of world out there to see, and lord knows the gigs don't always get you where you need to go. Of course it’s a fine line between really enjoying the craft of music making and trying to run it as a viable business – I hope to always play venues small enough to interact with and connect with the crowd. I’d like to hook up with a good manager who can help me with the organizing of tours and manage my online presence – I am pretty terrible with those things.

Q:: When you tour elsewhere, what are the clubs like? What's that experience like? Is it paid? Why do you do it?

A:: When I started playing out on the road several years ago, I’d take almost any gig anyone would give me. A few times, I’d drive all day to play a coffee shop in New Jersey or North Carolina and find the place almost empty – that the posters I’d sent a month ago had never been hung and the promoter on the other end hadn’t done their work to get anyone to the show. Those were frustrating days. I learned quickly to play only well-established venues and to be more picky with where I was willing to play. In the last few years, I’ve toured down to Georgia and back, and cross-country to Oregon and down to Baja, and it’s a constant learning experience. I’ve made some great connections in my travels with other musicians, venues and music lovers. Many people that I’ve met traveling in the last couple of years have invited me to play shows in their homes on my way back through town, which are incredibly rewarding gigs. House concerts are a great way to play for an attentive audience in intimate settings, and get paid well, even when far from home. I have a great bunch of venues and house concert hosts that love to have me play when I am coming through town, and I take people up on their offers to host me whenever I can. I don’t often play bars while I’m on the road – they’re often underpaid and it’s rare that there’s much of an audience, at least at this point in my career. I occasionally play at small folk festivals, and hope to do more of that in the future. There’s a built-in audience, great hospitality for musicians and a real sense of camaraderie amongst everyone backstage. There’s a lot about the openness of road that I love – the constant change in scenery, playing new venues, playing old venues, meeting up with friends from different parts of my life, days off to eat and drink with these people, and the amazing cultures you can cross paths with within our own country. As a solo traveling musician I’m invited into so many homes and to meals and parties where people are generally interested in hearing stories that I’ve gathered along the way, and where people have cool stories of their own to share. - Nantucket's N Magazine


Q:: Do you have a favorite track that you might lead with as a single? Why would you chose that one?

A:: I wrote and recorded a song called the Toronto Song 5 years back – it got some attention and a little radio play and won me some songwriting awards. I think it’s some pretty gutsy story telling combined with a heart-on-your-sleeve, exposed chorus that gets people when they hear that one. I think people really connect with some of my imagery and honesty that can sometimes be hard to let pour out. I’ve got a couple brewing on the front burner that might be potentially commercially viable, but that’s not really on my agenda right now.

Q:: What would you say your goal is as a musician? (interpret that as you wish)

A:: I love to travel, I love the outdoors, and I love meeting people. If I can make a decent living traveling with my music for a while, and connect with people through it in beautiful places, I’ll be a happy girl. I often get people saying that they think I’ll “get big” or “make it” some day. I guess I’m not really up for chasing after that kind of life. If I get some break and make some money off a certain song, I’d be thrilled to take the money and keep on keepin’ on, as they say, there’s a lot of world out there to see, and lord knows the gigs don't always get you where you need to go. Of course it’s a fine line between really enjoying the craft of music making and trying to run it as a viable business – I hope to always play venues small enough to interact with and connect with the crowd. I’d like to hook up with a good manager who can help me with the organizing of tours and manage my online presence – I am pretty terrible with those things.

Q:: When you tour elsewhere, what are the clubs like? What's that experience like? Is it paid? Why do you do it?

A:: When I started playing out on the road several years ago, I’d take almost any gig anyone would give me. A few times, I’d drive all day to play a coffee shop in New Jersey or North Carolina and find the place almost empty – that the posters I’d sent a month ago had never been hung and the promoter on the other end hadn’t done their work to get anyone to the show. Those were frustrating days. I learned quickly to play only well-established venues and to be more picky with where I was willing to play. In the last few years, I’ve toured down to Georgia and back, and cross-country to Oregon and down to Baja, and it’s a constant learning experience. I’ve made some great connections in my travels with other musicians, venues and music lovers. Many people that I’ve met traveling in the last couple of years have invited me to play shows in their homes on my way back through town, which are incredibly rewarding gigs. House concerts are a great way to play for an attentive audience in intimate settings, and get paid well, even when far from home. I have a great bunch of venues and house concert hosts that love to have me play when I am coming through town, and I take people up on their offers to host me whenever I can. I don’t often play bars while I’m on the road – they’re often underpaid and it’s rare that there’s much of an audience, at least at this point in my career. I occasionally play at small folk festivals, and hope to do more of that in the future. There’s a built-in audience, great hospitality for musicians and a real sense of camaraderie amongst everyone backstage. There’s a lot about the openness of road that I love – the constant change in scenery, playing new venues, playing old venues, meeting up with friends from different parts of my life, days off to eat and drink with these people, and the amazing cultures you can cross paths with within our own country. As a solo traveling musician I’m invited into so many homes and to meals and parties where people are generally interested in hearing stories that I’ve gathered along the way, and where people have cool stories of their own to share. - Nantucket's N Magazine


Q:: How and when did you start playing music? What inspired you?

A:: My mom put me in piano lessons when I was three - she was taking lessons alongside me. We always had a big old upright piano in the house, something to plunk away on. I’d spend hours as a little kid at that piano, working out simple songs and things I’d heard. I guess my musical start was less of an inspiration and more of something that my mother saw as an important part of all of her kids’ education, I just happened to have a decent ear for it. I guess starting early helped. When I was 5 or 6 I started taking lessons with a guy named Bruce Sklar, who is a bit of a local music legend up in central Vermont (where I’m from). He’s an incredible jazz and funk pianist and let me learn by ear and taught me a real sense of soulfulness and “feel” from a young age. He remained my teacher until I graduated from high school. I didn’t always love my piano lessons – in fact I remember often blowing them off and going months without really practicing. I played in jazz band in school and sang in choirs and got a great foundation from my high school music teachers long before thinking about going off to music school. I ended up moving north of the border and getting a BAM (Bachelor of Arts in Music) from Acadia University in Nova Scotia, a pretty open-ended, well-rounded music degree that allowed me to take courses in things other than just music, which was important to me. It was there that I started playing in bands and writing music of my own - I'd stay up all night in practice rooms at school, working out songs on the grand pianos and bringing my new material to open mics. One summer early on in college, I got invited to tour as a piano player with another folky band called Barefoot. We played clubs and festivals all the way across canada, living five to a van and crashing on floors and couches along the way, with big parties at every stop if I remember correctly. Those guys were like family to me, and really opened my eyes up to the thought of traveling and playing music for a living. After splitting with them, I got my own band together and recording some CD's. I ended up getting invited to open for all kinds of fairly big Canadian acts that were touring on the college circuit - it was an exciting time in my life and a great way to connect with the community outside of school, too. I toured in the Maritimes quite a bit back then, playing with other songwriters and grew fond of the movement and constant change of everything that comes with being on the road.

Q:: How would you describe your sound? Do you have any major influences--or a genre you most closely associate with?

A:: Well, my music seems to finally be coming into its own. I think I sound quite a bit different than I did 4 or 5 years ago, when I was playing and touring quite a bit. My voice is settling in with a more mature and what seems to be a unique sound – A mix of Adele, Bonnie Raitt and Patty Griffin, perhaps. Smoky, often slightly raspy, backed by sultry piano, though I’m playing guitar these days more than I ever have. As funny as it sounds, I don’t listen to as much music as you’d think a musician would – in fact I just bought my first Ipod for my most recent cross-country trip. My living folk heroes these days are Patty Griffin, Brandi Carlile, and Bob Dylan, among others, and I’d like to think that one day I’ll put out some songs comparable to some of theirs.
- Nantucket's N Magazine


Q:: How and when did you start playing music? What inspired you?

A:: My mom put me in piano lessons when I was three - she was taking lessons alongside me. We always had a big old upright piano in the house, something to plunk away on. I’d spend hours as a little kid at that piano, working out simple songs and things I’d heard. I guess my musical start was less of an inspiration and more of something that my mother saw as an important part of all of her kids’ education, I just happened to have a decent ear for it. I guess starting early helped. When I was 5 or 6 I started taking lessons with a guy named Bruce Sklar, who is a bit of a local music legend up in central Vermont (where I’m from). He’s an incredible jazz and funk pianist and let me learn by ear and taught me a real sense of soulfulness and “feel” from a young age. He remained my teacher until I graduated from high school. I didn’t always love my piano lessons – in fact I remember often blowing them off and going months without really practicing. I played in jazz band in school and sang in choirs and got a great foundation from my high school music teachers long before thinking about going off to music school. I ended up moving north of the border and getting a BAM (Bachelor of Arts in Music) from Acadia University in Nova Scotia, a pretty open-ended, well-rounded music degree that allowed me to take courses in things other than just music, which was important to me. It was there that I started playing in bands and writing music of my own - I'd stay up all night in practice rooms at school, working out songs on the grand pianos and bringing my new material to open mics. One summer early on in college, I got invited to tour as a piano player with another folky band called Barefoot. We played clubs and festivals all the way across canada, living five to a van and crashing on floors and couches along the way, with big parties at every stop if I remember correctly. Those guys were like family to me, and really opened my eyes up to the thought of traveling and playing music for a living. After splitting with them, I got my own band together and recording some CD's. I ended up getting invited to open for all kinds of fairly big Canadian acts that were touring on the college circuit - it was an exciting time in my life and a great way to connect with the community outside of school, too. I toured in the Maritimes quite a bit back then, playing with other songwriters and grew fond of the movement and constant change of everything that comes with being on the road.

Q:: How would you describe your sound? Do you have any major influences--or a genre you most closely associate with?

A:: Well, my music seems to finally be coming into its own. I think I sound quite a bit different than I did 4 or 5 years ago, when I was playing and touring quite a bit. My voice is settling in with a more mature and what seems to be a unique sound – A mix of Adele, Bonnie Raitt and Patty Griffin, perhaps. Smoky, often slightly raspy, backed by sultry piano, though I’m playing guitar these days more than I ever have. As funny as it sounds, I don’t listen to as much music as you’d think a musician would – in fact I just bought my first Ipod for my most recent cross-country trip. My living folk heroes these days are Patty Griffin, Brandi Carlile, and Bob Dylan, among others, and I’d like to think that one day I’ll put out some songs comparable to some of theirs.
- Nantucket's N Magazine


Discography

2008 - 'Toronto Song' featured on MVY Radio Fresh Produce Volume 5 - w/ Carly Simon, Tift Merrit, Abbot Finney, Hans York.
2007 - Self released "Jess Clemons & The Cooperative"
2005 - Self released "Jess Clemons & The Cooperative Welcome Home EP"

Jess' songs 'For Mother' and 'Freedom Road' have been featured on two Vermont independent musicians' compilations:
'In Silver Light' - Vermont Music Library & Shop - 2007
'Otter Creek Brewing Company's Spring Sampler Compilation: 12 great bands for 12 great beers' - 2007

Photos

Bio

Jess Clemons is a touring singer/songwriter based in Nantucket, MA and Baja California Sur, Mexico. A Vermont native and traveler at heart, she has toured the heck out of small venues in North America. After music school in Nova Scotia (2002-2007) and extensive Canadian touring, she came home to her New England roots - to a summer gardening job and regular gigs on Nantucket Island. She built up a great local fanbase in both Nantucket, MA and central Vermont, playing small tours around New England. She has also toured south to Atlanta, GA, and out to the west coast.

With wanderlust in her heart, and a love for performing for people, she spends winters hopping planes, boats and busses to fetches as far as Ecuador and the arctic circle town of Kotzebue, Alaska, often playing small stages and always collecting stories for song material. For the last many years, Jess has worked seasonally on Nantucket, playing nightly gigs and gardening by the day, saving enough cash to hit the road touring and spend winters in warmer climes. In 2010, she stumbled upon the town of La Ventana, a small fishing village turned winter kitesurfing hangout in southern Baja, Mexico. Mixing her passion for the water and outdoors with the music-loving community that she found there, she quickly gained a passionate following, playing all kinds of small venues and house concerts. In 2011 she was invited to play for a local school in La Paz, and this year ventured out to other nearby towns to play shows. "I think I was a long-haul trucker in my last life", Jess says about her love of the road. Two years in a row, she has made the trek via Subaru from New England to California, and down the Baja peninsula, playing house concerts and at bars along the way.

A few years back in her home state, she won the 2008 Burlington Acoustic Singer/Songwriter Contest (November 2008), and took 3rd place winner at the Vermont Solar Fest's Singer/songwriter contest (July 2009), and was the 2nd place winner in the Flat Rock Music Festival's Songwriter Contest (North Carolina, Sept. 2007). In 2008 she toured with the cross-Canada Babes For Breasts Tour, a non-profit collective of female singer/songwriters using their voices to raise funds and bring awareness about breast cancer across Canada. She has had her music featured on several compilations, including MVY Radio's "Fresh Produce Vol. 5" along with the likes of Carley Simon and Tift Merritt. She's shared stages with Rose Cousins, Craig Cardiff, Amelia Curran and Canadian rockers Wintersleep, The Trews, and Joel Plaskett, among others.

Festivals: Vermont Solar Festival (July 2011 Songwriter Contest finalist), Nantucket Music Festival (Nantucket, MA Sept. 2009, 2010), Camp Jam in the Pines (Monreoville, New Jersey 2008, 2009), Ormstown Branches and Roots Festival (Ormstown, Quebec 2008), Nantucket Arts Festival (Nantucket, Massachusetts 2008), Nantucket Cranberry Festival (2008), Atlantic Music Conference & Festival (Atlanta, Georgia 2007), Flat Rock Music Festival (Flat Rock, North Carolina 2007), Club Passim's CampFire Festival (Cambridge, Massachusetts 2007), In the Dead of Winter Festival (Halifax, Nova Scotia 2007), Vancouver Island' Folk Festival (British Columbia 2005), Thundering Women's Music Festival (Thunderbay, Ontario 2004).

Jess can be contacted at jessclemons@gmail.com, or reached by phone at (802)498-7123.